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Something to Tell You: The Road Families Travel When a Child Is Gay

Overview

Even now, at the end of the twentieth century, many still have difficulty standing up and saying, "I am the parent of a gay child." Something to Tell You tells the stories of families whose lives have been touched by the discovery that a child is lesbian or gay - how it impacts and influences their perceptions of their children, and even changes the self-image of parents themselves.

The authors found that families committed to staying together are able to overcome the powerful ...

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Overview

Even now, at the end of the twentieth century, many still have difficulty standing up and saying, "I am the parent of a gay child." Something to Tell You tells the stories of families whose lives have been touched by the discovery that a child is lesbian or gay - how it impacts and influences their perceptions of their children, and even changes the self-image of parents themselves.

The authors found that families committed to staying together are able to overcome the powerful obstacles imposed by society. Focusing on fifty average families - not people seen in clinics or therapy - they found a consistent pattern of change: first negative, then positive. Sometimes the news led parents and siblings to form stronger bonds with the child, with each other, and with other relatives and friends. In many cases their child's lover and lover's family grew to assume an important part of their own lives. In some cases, parents and siblings discovered new meaning in their lives through speaking out or joining PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) and becoming part of the struggle for lesbian and gay rights.

Herdt and Koff also show the lasting and sometimes tragic consequences for families who falter in the process of integration. Unwilling to accept their child's sexuality, some parents sought to place blame on one another and all too often their own relationships unraveled as a result. Others who failed to tell close friends sometimes lost those friends through keeping secrets. Parents who neglected to form bonds with their child's lover fostered climates of alienation that persisted for years.

Something to Tell You shows families the steps to take toward new levels of support, solidarity, and love.

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Editorial Reviews

Caitlin Ryan
An invaluable resource for parents, family members, and mental health providers. Based on the results of a groundbreaking study, it offers a roadmap of personal experience and hope for families, together with clinical insight and guidance for social workers, psychologists, and other mental health providers who are helping families cope with a child´s coming out. A must read for every parent of a lesbian, gay, or bisexual child and anyone who works with them.
Paul Beeman
An extremely helpful book for parents and family members as they discover a child to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, or questioning. We wish we might have read it eleven years ago when our kids came out.
Susan Stewart
The parent of a gay, lesbian, or bisexual child will find this a valuable resource in helping families cope with a child's coming out. Family accounts and experiences, joined with scholarly study and guidance, provide a model for families to work through. This work would be useful in any public library.
Journal of Feminist Family Therapy
On the one hand, the book is a carefully researched and scholarly work that will appeal to researchers, policymakers, mental health professionals, and service providers. On the other, it is a highly readable, enjoyable, and informative work for families of gay sons or lesbian daughters.
Booknews
Basing their work on a survey of 50 families, Koff (family health, U. of Chicago) and Herdt (human sexuality, San Francisco State U.) explore parental reactions to children's coming out of the closet. They find that some patterns of reaction led to stronger relations that allowed families to overcome strong societal pressures while others led to total family dissolution. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Gilbert Herdt is director of the Human Sexualities Program at San Francisco State University. The author of a number of books on gay men and lesbians, including Same Sex, Different Cultures: Exploring Gay and Lesbian Lives and, with Andrew Boxer, Children of Horizons: How Gay Teens Are Leading a New Way Out of the Closet, he is also the editor of numerous volumes including Gay Culture in America.Bruce Koff is the former executive director of Horizons Community Services, the largest social service agency for gay men and lesbians in the Midwest. He is currently on the faculty of the Chicago Center for Family Health of the University of Chicago and maintains a private psychotherapy practice specializing in work with gay men, lesbians, and their families.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

Foreword
Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction: When Your Child Says, "I Have Something to Tell You..." 1
Ch. 1 The Heterosexual Family Myth: How It Can Be Harmful 13
Ch. 2 What Affects a Family's Resilience? 29
Ch. 3 When a Family Loses Its Way: Disintegration 41
Ch. 4 Somewhere in the Middle: Ambivalence 63
Ch. 5 The Family Renewed: Integration 81
Ch. 6 You Have Something to Hear: New Cultural Ideals 107
App. 1: Tables 121
App. 2: Context and Methods of the Study 127
App. 3: Resources 137
Notes 145
Index 151
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